Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:10 pm

snafu wrote:Orion, it's because one group of christians think it's wrong, and another think it's right. Being a christian does not mean they all perfectly agree with each other.
I know. That wasn't my point. I was saying that if morals all come from the bible, then I'd be interested to hear where 'slavery is wrong' comes from, given all the passages that lend themselves so well to justifying slavery.
Of course one can also argue that God gave us a conscience, and our morals also come from that. But this is just as problematic. Everyone's consciences seems to lead them in different directions, and it also brings you up against the 'is/ought' fallacy. Just because your conscience tells you something is wrong, why does that make it actually wrong.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  snafu on Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:52 pm

Orion, agreed. Some christians say "all morals come from the bible", and some do not (the ones who think slavery is wrong). I have a friend who is a committed christian, but says the bible (apostle paul) got it wrong with attitudes to women also.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Objectivitees on Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:49 pm

Neon Genesis wrote:Is Objectivees actually using the constitution as proof of the existence of God or am I misreading something?
You are misreading something. (again) As always. No where did I claim this proves God. I used the example in refutation to orions claim the state gives rights. You only see it the way you do because you want to see everything I say as some sort of "proof" for what you think is my position. It blinds you to what is actually said.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Objectivitees on Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:03 pm

Snafu, I spent an hour and a half responding to your last post, and the site logged me out, without saving the page. I'll re-compose my response off line and get back at ya laters. may take a bit though, I like to chew too.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  snafu on Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:11 pm

No worries. I've got caught like that too. Now I do text edit offline, and then cut & paste.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Nicholas on Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:02 am

Objectivitees wrote:I did read it. Then I asked a question based on it, which was not answered. This is because they, (nor you) understand the nature of the question. Your 'big boy" sneer lacks the grace you claim I lack, and serves as yet again another avoidance on your part to answer the direct question TCL's "explanation" begs.

How does pragmatism = moral?[/color]

Remember, if you keep avoiding the attempt to answer this question, you won't risk losing the argument. Your footwork is better than mine.

No one is avoiding any propositions you make. They have been answered in turn, repeatedly. All I see (and I am not the only one who observes this) is your repeated song and dance routine in avoiding our inquiries. You're all smoke and mirrors. The situation isn't whether or not the question has been answered (it has), but whether or not you accept the answer as a valid, logical response (you don't). You're throwing out the answer altogether because you don't like it; essentially, you won't accept an answer unless it conforms to your morally objective worldview, unless it works withing the presupposition you've already determined.

Pragmatism is essentially the idea that "right" and "wrong" can be determined by the outcome of the actions, rather than by a supernatural determinant. It factors in the effects of the moral supposition on the individuals and on society, and leaves the opportunity for the individual (and for society as a whole) to determine if such a moral or ethical proposition is worthy and just. Your "brain chemical" response was entirely off the mark, as usual. I bring this up because it is in part what affects determining values in society. Brain chemistry is a huge component in human behavior, like it or not.

People who believe in an objective, supernaturally-derived morality do this, too; they are just not willing to admit it. It is what we do as members of ever-changing societies. As new information is gained, as society at large grows and progresses, so to must our views on what consists of right and wrong, good and bad. I urge you to read some Walter Terrence Stace if you care for a more detailed and eloquent explanation of this. (And take off the aforementioned objective glasses)

Careful, you might learn something.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Neon Genesis on Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:45 am

Objectivitees wrote:]You are misreading something. (again) As always. No where did I claim this proves God. I used the example in refutation to orions claim the state gives rights. You only see it the way you do because you want to see everything I say as some sort of "proof" for what you think is my position. It blinds you to what is actually said. [/color]
So, what are you saying? God founded the United States? America is a theocracy and should follow the laws of Christianity?

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:31 am

"I used the example in refutation to orions claim the state gives rights."

And in return I asked you where in my country's constitution does it say that?
1. Given that my country doesn't HAVE a constitution, your answer is nonsensical and my claim stands unrefuted.
2. It doesn't matter if my state claimed that rights originally came from Jesus, Allah, or fairies - it doesn't mean that rights actually come from them (or we could prove the existence of Allah and fairies). So it wouldn't affect the point that you're getting your rights from whoever enforces them. If the rights are not being enforced, then you simply don't HAVE those rights.

Incidentally, I assume you were talking about the AMERICAN constitution (there are other countries in the world you know). If so, I'm still waiting to hear you quote the part there where it says they come from God. You told me I wasn't reading it carefully enough. You obviously count yourself as a careful reader of the document, so it shouldn't be a hard question for you.

In fact, as I understand it the founding fathers debated on many occasions whether to include references to God in the constitution. On every occasion they took a vote of it, and as far as I know on every occasion it was voted down. They knew what they were doing.

PS, I tend not to respond to private messages. Given that I doubt your mind can be changed, my responses are for the benefit of other readers. Please post questions to me on the board, and I will answer that way.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:45 am

Objectivitees wrote: When a person presupposes the nature of something is subjective, he abandons all standards.
Can you clarify what you mean by 'abandon all standards'? Can you give me examples of how this is supposed to affect my behaviour? If I say it's subjective that dung beetles like dung, and I don't, that means I have no standards when it comes to whether I eat dung or not? That means I can't say to someone else 'it smells horrible in there' when referring to a room full of dung? Why ever not?

Objectivitees wrote:If a standard does not exist, one cannot behave in accordance with it. Atheists cannot behave consistently with their presupposition morality is subjective. (No standard) If you think they can, I invite you to to show me an Atheist who does not moralize. Just one who will not object to my taking his wife and children. Show me one who just shrugs and says "shit happens".
So you're saying that I can't say 'Objectivitee has no right to take my wife and children'.

1) We've already established that I am well within my rights, as set out by the secular laws of my country, to say you can't touch my wife or daughter.
2) The implication here seems to be that if I can't SAY it then I shouldn't be allowed to stop you. This is clearly nonsense. YOU can't say any of the following:
a) This flu virus has no right to infect my wife
b) That rock rollling towards my daughter has no right to roll over her
c) That wave crashing towards me has no right to drown me.

And in none of those occasions can you say, by your worldview, that the virus, rock or wave are 'evil', objectively or otherwise. That has NO BEARING on whether you innoculate your wife, push your daughter out the way, or swim away from the wave.

Likewise, I'll stop you trying to take my family, because I value their lives. I don't need to work out the right label for you before I do this. (Otherwise you'd be dithering over whether or not swine flu counted as 'evil' before you took an H1N1 shot.) You've not demonstrated why this is inconsistent with my worldview.

And if I see my neighbour talking to you, I could say to him 'Careful around Objectivitee - he tries to nick people's kids'. And my neighbour could reply 'he sounds evil', and we'd both know what he meant - that you deliberately try to cause harm to others. Neither of us need an objective standard of evil to make or understand that statement. God is not needed for the words to carry meaning from one of us to the other.

I may not have an 'objective standard' for 'danger', 'funny', 'tastes good', 'cute', or a hundred different adjective/nouns. But I don't NEED one to use these terms to describe something to someone else, and they don't need one to understand me. As long as someone understands what I mean when I say 'Hitler was evil', then you can't say it's meaningless for me to say it. All we need is a basic shared understanding of what those words mean, and a basic sharing in values.

No God needed for that.


Last edited by Orion on Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Neon Genesis on Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:17 pm

Orion wrote:

In fact, as I understand it the founding fathers debated on many occasions whether to include references to God in the constitution. On every occasion they took a vote of it, and as far as I know on every occasion it was voted down. They knew what they were doing.

And any reference to God in there would be references to the god of nature, deism, not the Judea-Christian god. I suggest Objectivees should go read up about the Jefferson Bible.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:04 pm

That's interesting Neon Genesis. If I've read Objectivitee correctly on the other thread, all Gods bar the one of a literally interpreted bible are actually logically impossible. He's welcome to correct me if I'm wrong on that, but otherwise he must believe America was mostly founded on non-existent Gods.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Neon Genesis on Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:45 pm

Many of our founding fathers were actually very anti-religious. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine were all deists. Jefferson even made a version of the bible where he removed all the miracles and just left the moral teachings of Jesus because he thought that was all you needed and the rest was unbelievable.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  LonghWynn on Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:53 am

Neon Genesis wrote:Many of our founding fathers were actually very anti-religious. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine were all deists. Jefferson even made a version of the bible where he removed all the miracles and just left the moral teachings of Jesus because he thought that was all you needed and the rest was unbelievable.

Curiously enough, I happen to be reading it right now...he also took time to rearrange in his own Jeffersonian way. Such a brave man. Too bad almost nobody knows of his work (wonder if there was a Christian conspiracy to downplay his work? Question )

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  snafu on Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:57 am

History is written by the victors, as an old boss used to say.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Neon Genesis on Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:29 pm

LonghWynn wrote:
Curiously enough, I happen to be reading it right now...he also took time to rearrange in his own Jeffersonian way. Such a brave man. Too bad almost nobody knows of his work (wonder if there was a Christian conspiracy to downplay his work? Question )
I also heard he actually used a pair of scissors to cut out the parts of the bible he didn't like. That's taking cherry picking literally for ya.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  LonghWynn on Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:52 pm

Neon Genesis wrote:I also heard he actually used a pair of scissors to cut out the parts of the bible he didn't like. That's taking cherry picking literally for ya.

You mean Bible-picking Very Happy

It's not like the church fathers haven't attempted to do such a thing ever since...before they decided on a Bible. There are some pretty good stuff in the Gnostic works. Of course, if you ask most Bible-readers today, they wouldn't know too much about that stuff either.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:50 pm

How long do you reckon we'll have to wait till Objectivitee comes back with some quote to back up his claim that the constitution tells that all our rights come from God? If he's telling other people they need to read it more carefully, surely he must be quite an expert on it himself?

Joking aside, I think that the American Constitution must be second only to the bible as a document that Fundamentalist Christians will continually cite and lecture others on, while not actually knowing that much about it. I've spoken to so many Christians who think that Jesus spoke out against homosexuality, or don't know any of the many bible passages condoning slavery. And yet this is the book they claim to base all their morals on. It's scary how little many seem to actually know it.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Nicholas on Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:33 am

Orion wrote:How long do you reckon we'll have to wait till Objectivitee comes back with some quote to back up his claim that the constitution tells that all our rights come from God? If he's telling other people they need to read it more carefully, surely he must be quite an expert on it himself?

Joking aside, I think that the American Constitution must be second only to the bible as a document that Fundamentalist Christians will continually cite and lecture others on, while not actually knowing that much about it. I've spoken to so many Christians who think that Jesus spoke out against homosexuality, or don't know any of the many bible passages condoning slavery. And yet this is the book they claim to base all their morals on. It's scary how little many seem to actually know it.

He's working on his dance moves; he has quite a show to put on for us, after all. Wink

If Christians want to misinterpret and mangle the reading and understanding of their own holy book, so be it. Disappointing, but ultimately not our problem. As an American citizen, however, if they want to bastardize the Constitution to further their Christian agenda, then that becomes my problem. It is unacceptable, intellectually and ethically fraudulent, and frankly is rather disgusting. But such are the lengths the desperate and deluded will go to...

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:15 am

It's pretty common. The same argument was given to me on another site the same day as on here: A poster said that when fundamentalist Muslims run a country it is chaos, whereas when fundamentalist Christians formed America it turned out great. I pointed out that you couldn't call the founding fathers fundamentalists, and that many of them were deists. Here is the poster's response:

"From Washington’s FIRST inaugural address) “…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe”
Go to “infoplease.com” and search Washington’s first inaugural address. It’s the first one that comes up. He talked like that all of the time, too

In other words, he thought that a reference to an almight being meant Washington couldn't have been a deist. He didn't actually know what the word meant.

From here: http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?p=133#comment-14299

I'm the one posting as Nathan.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Neon Genesis on Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:06 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't George Washington's church ask him not to come back because he kept getting up in the middle of services and leaving because he thought it was boring and this was embarrassing them?

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  snafu on Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:23 pm

While we wait for objectivitees, I thought I would post this link, which is to an article I stumbled upon about the objective morality issue he his hammering.

http://www.freethoughtdebater.com/FDoesMoralityDepend.htm

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:01 am

If he's not coming back till he finds that constitution quote, then he's probably not coming back.

I'd be interested in his answers to my post on the 'evolution' thread too. I can't imagine there IS any sensible answer apart from the one I posited, which is the answer he should have given right at the start. But I could be wrong.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  snafu on Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:08 am

Hi Objectivitees,
Just wondering whether everything is ok? Are you on holidays, or pondering, or have you given up on us?
All the best in any case.
snafu

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Orion on Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:39 pm

Snafu, he's given up. To be honest, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did.

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Re: Do objective moral values exist for non-believers?

Post  Objectivitees on Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:43 pm

Hi again objectivees,
Thankyou for your reply.

So objective humor is an oxymoron, but objective morality isn't. On what basis?
On the basis humor is not a universal and morality is.

There have been a few posts in this thread arguing that morality cannot be objective because it is a value placed on behaviour which resides in the mind, and therefore cannot be objective, because being objective means existing outside of the mind. I don't think I have read where you comment on this criticism of objective morality.
I haven't commented because it's not a valid critique. To say something can be objective only if it resides outside the mind, reduces both sides of the issue to nonsense as the both become simply opinions, and by the "standard" of the claim, unreal. In short, the "critique" suffers from self contradiction. If I claim morality is only in the mind, and therefore not objective, because it is not part of "reality" then my belief it is so is also only in my mind and on the same basis, cannot be objectively true either, so when one makes this "critique" one defeats their own line of reasoning.

Objective morality is an oxymoron just like objective humour is, for the same reasons. Your view on this specific (and technical) criticism?

As I said above, humor is not universal, morality is. Everyone behaves as though morality is transcendent, no one behaves as though humor is. This is how philosophers recognize "universals", by their universality.


In regard to TLC's point about presuppositions, I think you misunderstand. He contended YOU are PRESUPPOSING an objective morality.
Yes, indeed I am.

It seems to be a filter you are placing onto everything about this topic in your thinking. It is a bias, a lens.

Yes, that's how worldviews work. They are a series of assumptions through which we filter our perceptions of reality to arrive at our beliefs. The question I am asking is are you aware of yours?
Just like when fundamentalists presuppose the innerancy of the bible. That is my charge against you also - that you are presupposing an objective morality.
It's my charge against you as well, but I have now demonstrated that I am aware of my presuppositions, I have been for many years. Are you aware of yours?

If you think you are not, I would love to hear how not. Because it sure does seem so. And are you open to the possibility that you may have this filter, but are not aware of it? (like the fundamentalists are not aware of theirs).

I am aware of my "filter". It's intentional. I think you are not aware of your presuppositions. Specifically, you don't seem to realize that without an objective standard, Morality cannot exist. Have you studied philosophy? If Naturalism obtains, and Morality is therefore subjective, there is in effect, no actual way for you to have moral outrage at another person's actions. If morals are indeed subjective, everyone has as much "right" to choose their own standards as you do, making no one individuals choice superior (or inferior) to anyone else's choice, effectively leveling the playing field so to speak, and we cannot object to those who choose to offend our choice. On what basis could we object? We'd have to have a standard to compare the chosen "values" to in order to judge which is objectionable and which is not! Here is the rub! My claim is (and always has been) that you cannot behave according to your presuppositions. Your behavior will always be at odds with your stated claim that morality is subjective. When someone steals your stereo, you will object. When someone steals your wife, you will (probably) object. When someone attempts to rape your child, you will object. When someone tries to kill you, you will defend yourself. You will do all these things not because you chose to value property, marriage, children's innocence, and life, but because you believe the person attempting to violate your values should respect them.
But the question begged is... 'Why?' If values are subjective as you claim, why should anyone else accept your choices?


You can't measure or compare humour to some ultimate standard, because no standard exists.
Right, humor is not universal, but moral concepts are.

To not be able to measure funnyness is the definition of it's being subjective, not evidence for some self contradiction. Their is no self-contradiction at all. Same for morality. You can't measure for morality, it is subjective.
As I pointed out, your argument is a false analogy becuase humor is not a universal, but morality is.
If you point me to the bible and say that's the measure for everyone, I will point you to my definition for funnyness and say that's the measure in that realm for everyone too (which incidentally is satire - you've got to watch The Hollowmen, all about politics).

But I didn't point to anything as "the" standard in my arguments. I am only pointing out that a standard must logically exist. The evidence one exists is that we all behave as though one exists. It is universal. Therefore your paragraph above as an analogy and argument fails to address the point. To say it clearly...My argument is that a standard must exist(objective) because the presumption that one doesn't exist (subjective) results in the absurdity that we have no right to object to murder or rape.

Can you possibly even conceive of morality existing where it is subjective?

No, I can't, because that would be absurd.
You seem to get hung up on the flow on impacts about subjectivity and ask questions about how one group can assert their morality over another and how can anyone judge who is right (which is your presupposition talking). You trip up on this and appeal to the existence of an objective morality to fix the problem, whereas previous posts are saying that yes, one group asserts their "morality" over another all the time, we see it in the real world, and who wins is (sadly) more about who is more powerful.

Why is that sad? I think it is sad because I believe there is a standard to compare behavior to that demonstrates this behavior (asserting strength as though it were morality) is wrong. But you, who believe morality is subjective should just shrug your shoulders and say "might makes right", regardless of whether it is your child or wife who is being "asserted" upon, or someone else's wife and child. This because, morality being subjective (in your view) means the people "asserting" simply have a different opinion than you about what is right and what is wrong. After all, who are we to force our views on anyone else, right?
You seem to not engage with this possibility that morality is subjective, and do not explore it in your dialogue. You seem to discount it as an unacceptable situation and run back to a belief in an objective morality.

Yes, and by now you should see why. Objective morality provides me with "rights", while subjective morality strips me of them.
When I look at the world I see groups stomping over each other with their "morality" everywhere, and that is evidence to me for it's subjectiveness

But it should only be evidence that other people disagree with you on what to value.

(although most groups have large overlaps in what they agree on). You seem to set your belief (objective morality) based on the consequences of the other (subjective morality).

Exactly. It's absurd to think I don't have rights. The consequences of that line of reasoning are unacceptable. I demand to be able to say with certainty, it's "wrong" for you to murder my wife.

This is all around the wrong way.
You can't prove that rationally according to the presuppositions of your stated beliefs. In fact, you can't prove anything is "wrong".
Either an objective morality exists or it does not.
That's what I said.

The flow on effects are inconsequential.
Only if you're willing to accept the absurdity that it's just as valid to value murder as opposed to not.

To believe this or that, because we like or dislike certain implications of said belief, is silly.
But that's what you are doing when you choose subjective morality. You don't like the implications of objective morality, because it means you might be judged to be wrong. But subjective morality provides a nice neat escape from that, because no one can be "wrong" if morality is subjective.
The consequences bear nothing on whether it is true.
Only if you are willing to accept absurdities as true. Only if you believe murder is just another "choice". Only when you maintain that opposed ideas can both be true.


It is time to put your cards down on the table. What is the objective morality you speak of? What is it? Would you spell it out - the contents of it, where it came from etc... Tell me me all about it. If it exists, and it stacks up, then it exists. The flow on effects will fall as they will. But if you say "the bible" i'm going to have to post you a copy of "The Hollowmen"

"Stacks up??" What do you mean by "stacks up"? Are you going to judge my morality? What standard will you compare it to? Yours? Someone else's? What makes yours right? What makes theirs wrong? How will you know? After all, morality is subjective, right??

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